Creating songs for every mood...

Creating songs for every mood...

The multi-talented singer-composer Palakkad Sreeram chats about his music and his inspirations.

Palakkad Sreeram

Palakkad Sreeram is a familiar name for fans of Tamil film music. Music lovers will certainly recall his Liquid Dance from the movie Slumdog Millionaire as well as his work in movies such as Uyire, Saamy and Padayappa. An accomplished singer, Sreeram also plays several instruments as well as composes music. Excerpts from an interview:

Tell us about your early life and influences in music.

I was born in 1972 in a village called Kavassery in Palakkad district in Kerala. My mother taught me music at a very young age and after a while, I studied under the well-known Carnatic musician Sri Sundareswara Bhagavathar and he had an immense influence on me. Bhagavathar Sir’s passion and expertise with multiple musical instruments rubbed off on me and I spent days lost in the world of instruments, gleefully practising many hours a day. I used to have no clue as to how much time had passed by. Bhagavathar Sir’s emphasis on intensive gamakas allowed me to develop my own unique finger techniques, which has enabled me to have a signature style.

How did you make the transition to being a vocalist from an instrumentalist?

After my training with Bhagavathar Sir, I did a Post Graduate degree in music from Calicut University and then I moved to Chennai. I made my mark in the film industry as a flautist and keyboardist; in 1996, music director Keervani gave me a break when he asked me to perform for his Telugu film Annamayya. In 1998, A R Rahman asked me to do vocals for his movie Tajmahal. After this, offers kept coming and I’ve had hits with almost all the top music directors in the South, including A R Rahman, Ilayaraja, Harris Jayaraj, Vidyasagar, Devi Sri Prasad, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Karthik Raja, Sreekanth Deva, G V Prakash, etc. My biggest hit with Harris Jayaraj was the song Tirunaveli Alwada, a song from the movie Saamy

Have you tried your hand at music direction?

I have composed the music for two Malayalam films, Mazhamegha Pravukal and Melvilasam Seriyanu. Both the films had many hit songs sung by well-known playback singers like Yesudas, Janaki, K S Chithra, Sujatha, Jayachandran, Hariharan, Anuradha Sriram and Unnikrishnan. I’ve also done a number of music albums.

If you could pick one song or one event, which you could term as being the highlight of your career, what would that be?

In a career spanning two-and-a-half decades, there have been many highlights and vivid memories that stand out, but I really can’t pick out any one as being extra special. However, I could say that the most difficult song I ever recorded was Ulakame Nee Manithanai with the great Ilayaraja Sir. Also special was the vocals I did for the track Liquid Dance on the international hit film Slumdog Millionaire. It’s been a privilege and an honour to be part of the Slumdog Millionaire music team.